Representing your country
A few weeks ago I had a strange conversation on QQ (a Chinese instant messaging software that is widely used, even for work). One of my Chinese colleagues in our Shenzhen office asked me, out of the blue:
– “Marta, you are from Spain, right?”.
– “Yes”, I replied. “Why do you ask?”.
– “It’s just that we were here talking about the people from your department, and we all agreed you were the nicest one. And it must be because you are from Spain, and Spanish people are all very friendly”.
I was kind of amused and didn’t want to burst his bubble. Are all Spanish people very friendly? Unfortunately not, I’m afraid. We also have rude, nasty and unprofessional people, like everywhere! I don’t even know most of my Shenzhen colleagues in person, and the ones I know is just because I talked to them for 20 minutes when I joined the company’s New Year Party back in February. So they were mostly considering me nice on a professional level. Yes, I obviously reply when you send me a message and if you need me to do something I do it! But I thought everybody was like that!
Anyway, being stereotyped as nice is good, I guess?
I remembered about this incident today when I saw this piece of news: a bunch of foreign students acting like drunk monkeys on the subway. It is not known which nationalities they were, but I can imagine the reaction of the Chinese people who saw it or read the news: those wild foreigners! In the same way many Chinese feel ashamed when some of their compatriots let their kid pee or poo in unappropriate places, I also feel ashamed when foreigners do stupid things in China. Because they make us all look bad and then online you read things like “all the foreigners that come to China are losers back home”.
I never do stupid things in public places, mostly because I don’t drink, but also because I don’t like bothering people. Besides, living in a foreign country, you also need to consider that how you act, what you say, how you treat people, can be regarded by others as a portrayal of all your countrymen/women.
What do you think? If you live abroad, do you think you might be unthinkingly representing your country on your everyday life?